New state policy lessens chances of SU “pause”

Revamped NY rules lessen SU’s chances of campus "pause”

Administration reiterates sanctions for students violating Stay Safe Pledge.
Published: February 19, 2021 | Updated: March 9th, 2021 at 8:41 pm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo revamped a state policy Friday that switches the 100-case threshold for ceasing college campus activities to a 5% limit for positivity rates during a 14-day rolling period.

Also with Cuomo’s announcement, Syracuse University and other state colleges are now expected to test at least 25% of the total on-campus students, faculty and staff on a weekly basis.

As of Friday’s COVID-19 dashboard report, Syracuse University reported 69 active cases in total with an addition of 47 cases in a 14-day period. Under the previous requirement, schools that exceeded 100 positives cases would be required to pause in-person learning and most student activities.

Michael Haynie, SU vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation, announced the changes in the second of two university-wide emails Friday.

Earlier in the day, Haynie stressed “heightened sanctions” that the school will employ from now on because “a COVID outbreak on our campus has implications for all those who live and work in Central New York,” Haynie wrote in the email.

Prescribed by SU’s Stay Safe Pledge, individuals who host or attend on-campus gatherings with more than 10 people are in violation of the pledge. They will face interim suspension and be referred to the student conduct process.

Students who host or attend off-campus parties that violate COVID-emergency health ordinances may be issued an appearance ticket by the Syracuse Police and will be required to attend Onondaga County Criminal Court to answer to the charge of violating the state law. Also, SU will issue an interim suspension and refer it to the student conduct process.

The university administration also encourages community members who witness such a violation to anonymously report through the new Rave Guardian app and include photos or videos as well.SU also required all residential students to take a COVID-19 surveillance test at least once a week throughout the spring semester. SU has administered 169,638 tests as of Friday’s reporting.

Although the new state policy sounds like good news for the community, as well as for continuing in-person education, Haynie warns all those at SU at the end of the email.

“Please do not interpret this positive news as a reason to let down our guard.”

Syverud warns in-person classes are at risk
February 17, 2021 4:00 pm

With a notable uptick in new COVID-19 among Syracuse University students, Chancellor Kent Syverud issued a cautionary message to the campus community Wednesday afternoon.

“We are not yet two weeks into the spring semester, and we already find ourselves approaching the threshold of 100 positive COVID-19 cases in a two-week period,” Syverud said in a university-wide email.

According to the COVID-19 dashboard updated Wednesday afternoon, SU has a total of 90 COVID-19 cases on campus, which include 37 cases within a 14-day tracking period that started on Saturday.

The New York State Department of Health has mandated that universities that reach 100 cases within a designated 14-day period must stop classes and campus activities for at least two weeks.

Syverud and administrators’ concerns have been elevated after a series of early semester student parties.

In the first week of school, three off-campus parties hosted by members of the Greek community led to a surge of at least 20 new infections. According to a university spokesperson, SU placed an interim suspension on the Sigma Chi chapter for alleged violations of the Code of Student Conduct and public health directives.

Last Saturday, Syracuse athletes hosted a party of over 50 maskless attendees, which was then reported by the Department of Public Safety. SU Athletics Director John Wildhack wrote in an email that he was disappointed, and this behavior would not be tolerated. The identity of the athletes or which teams they play on have not been released.

“To our students who continue to host and attend large parties and ignore public health guidelines, I don’t know what more anyone can tell you,” Syverud wrote in the email, adding that their actions put campus and local community at risk.

For the spring semester, SU added new requirements for weekly COVID-19 testing for all students that if ignored will cut off access to campus services. There were stern warnings that students who flagrantly violated the Stay Safe pledges will face consequences — a point Syverud reiterated in Wednesday’s email.

“No matter who you are — a member of the Greek community, a student-athlete or anyone else — if you break the rules, discipline will follow.”